Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book review: Future Greats and Heartbreaks by Gare Joyce

There's a new book out on hockey scouting that some may enjoy. I say "some" because the book probably isn't for everyone. It assumes a lot of knowledge, so those who don't follow prospects may have trouble getting into it. But it reads well as far as the prose goes and it's chock full of anecdotes. Being so fresh off the press, it talks about guys who are very much still prospects. The author, Gare Joyce, writes for ESPN The Magazine.

I received this book as a Christmas gift and have read half of it so far. My complaint is with the subtitle: "A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts." I'm on page 165 of 327, and he hasn't gone undercover yet, so obviously the book is about more than that year, and more than just going undercover. It seems that the editors went for the sexy subtitle rather than a more accurate one. Right now in the book, he's embedded with a WHL team, but he's embedded as a journalist.

Joyce touches on a couple Thrasher prospects in the book, one being Paul Postma, the team's 7th rounder in 2007 out of Swift Current (WHL). Here's an excerpt from page 159. The time period is December 2006:

The Broncos' top draft prospect is Paul Postma, a defenceman from Red Deer. In NHL Central Scouting's early-season rankings, Postma is slotted just outside the top ten in the Western league. If he holds onto that slot, Postma is probably looking at being selected in the second or third round. That seems a little high for a kid who is six foot three but a pencil-thin 160 pounds. ...

I ask Postma for the skinny on his physique -- he looks as if he could get pushed around at the starting line of the Boston Marathon, never mind the corners of an NHL rink. "I've tried to put on weight and Brandon (Sutter) has too," Postma says. "My father's a decent size. I just have to work out and be patient. I know that it would probably help me with [the draft] to have that extra weight. Scouts would look at me differently."

When I see Postma step on the ice during the warm-up, one name comes to my mind: Jane Russell. Postma's ability to pass for a pro prospect probably owes as much to modern equipment design as much as anything else -- he is padded enough and draped in a large enough sweater that his ectomorphic frame is thoroughly disguised. There hasn't been such a form-flattering outfit since Howard Hughes came up with the underdress that cantilevered Russell to spectacular effect in the 1943 film The Outlaw.

Postma is now with the Calgary Hitmen and listed at 182.


Gare Joyce said...

I'm the author of this tome. Thanks for showing interest. If you are confused about being "undercover," I don't know why you should be. I was working as a bird dog but reporting only to the Columbus scouting director Don Boyd--other scouts in other organizations and players, coach and other officials with junior teams had no idea that I was working as a scout. They just presumed that I was working as a reporter and writer--that's how I came to know them in my years in the biz.

Holly Gunning said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm not confused about being undercover. I understand that it's coming, it's just that I'm 50.4% of the way through the book, and you're not actually undercover yet, or even working for the Blue Jackets (still in the "we'll talk" stage). The book is about more than that, so I just don't think the subtitle is very well chosen. I realize this was probably more an editor than you.

I like the book.